President Biden’s health secretary, Xavier Becerra, recently declared the monkeypox outbreak a national health emergency. This is a rare designation, suggesting that the virus represents a significant risk to Americans. This declaration comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared monkeypox a global health emergency in July 2022. It also marks the fifth national emergency since 2001.
According to a press briefing, Becerra said, “We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously and to take responsibility to help us tackle this virus.”
What Does The Data Suggest?
Globally, there are more than 26,000 cases of monkeypox in 87 countries. According to current data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the United States leads the world in monkeypox infections, with 6,616 across the country. New York, Georgia, and Washington have the highest rates of monkeypox per capita. The disease has the potential to cause serious illness and five deaths were recorded.
The WHO’s assessment of monkeypox is moderate on a global scale in all regions. In European countries, however, the risk is very high, but the risk of monkeypox disrupting international travel is low as of now. That said, health experts stated that this virus has the potential to cause serious illness. A coordinated international response is necessary in order to stop transmission and protect the most vulnerable groups.
Similar to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, tests are difficult to obtain. Surveillance has also been spotty, meaning that obtaining an accurate amount of cases is difficult. The U.S. Administration has also received a lot of negative attention for not properly educating people in the LGBTQI+ community before pride celebrations in June 2022. According to health officials, people in the LGBTQI+ community seem to be the most at risk for monkeypox infection. LGBTQI+ makes up about 5% of the world’s population, yet they have 25% of the world’s monkeypox cases.
Is There A Plan Of Action?
President Biden recently named Robert Fenton, an administrator with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as the White House’s national monkeypox response coordinator. Fenton highlighted how the government already scaled up testing services to handle 80,000 tests per week. That number is a massive increase from the 6,000 tests per week that it previously handled.
The actual number of people being tested is currently at 10% of the capacity. This is why the CDC encourages anyone with a suspected rash that may be monkeypox to get a test. You should be able to schedule a test via your healthcare provider. Quest Diagnostics, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Sonic Healthcare, and Labcorp are among some of the labs testing for monkeypox. The emergency declaration will allow the government the opportunity to find new strategies to get vaccines or treatments more quickly. This effort will greatly benefit impacted communities, or those most at risk.
Who Is Most At Risk?
Going off the most recent data, it seems that the median age for those who become infected is 36. People who contract monkeypox, however, range from ages 18 to 76. The vast majority of cases has been among people who identify as men who have sex with men. Both gay and bisexual men who have had sex with multiple partners have a higher risk of contracting monkeypox. The CDC advises people who identify with these groups to be on the lookout for rashes or lesions that seem unusual. These rashes can occur anywhere on the body, especially the genitalia.
With this information in mind, the WHO has stressed that the general public is unlikely to get monkeypox. On August 1st, 2022, however, at least four children contracted the illness in the United States. Children are most likely to get the virus if they come in contact with someone who has it or is at risk. These things can be prevented if all countries with confirmed cases of monkeypox work together to fight the disease. A united effort is the only way to control the outbreak and prevent further spread.